A man who set fire to a stolen car involved in a fatal police pursuit hours earlier has been jailed for more than five years by a Supreme Court judge.
James Stuart Edmonds, 22, pleaded guilty to setting fire to an Audi which was chased by police through Perth earlier this year.
As officers sped after the V6 sedan, their car ploughed into a car driven by Sharon D’Ercole.
The 50-year-old was killed and her 16-year-old daughter Lashay injured when the police Ford Territory allegedly ran a red light and slammed into their Toyota Corolla while pursuing the Audi in the northern Perth suburb of Dianella on April 12.
Western Australia’s Supreme Court was told on Friday that in the aftermath of the crash, Edmonds took the car to a street in East Perth and set it alight using tissues stuffed into the petrol tank.
Spraying perfume onto the flames to accelerate the blaze, Edmonds then left in a taxi.
The court heard he was later caught after a photo of the blaze was found on his phone, although the 22-year old denied that in court.
Edmonds has admitted stealing a car and starting the fire.
Prosecutor Darryl Carlson told the court Edmonds was clearly trying to destroy any link between him and the crash that had killed Mrs D’Ercole when he set the fire.
“He was well aware of the accident. That was at the forefront of his mind,” Mr Carlson said.
“The car was burned in an attempt to cut off any chance of him being associated with the car and the pursuit.”
The court heard that before and after the fatal crash, Edmonds had been caught by police driving another stolen car, in possession of stolen property and in possession of drugs on three occasions.
He also admitted being unauthorised to drive either of the stolen cars as he was on a learners permit at the time.
Defence lawyer Henry Sklarz said Edmonds was a recovering drug addict whose addiction had reached crisis point in the weeks leading up to the crash.
Burning the car had been a “futile attempt” to hide his involvement, Mr Sklarz said.
“The attempt only drew attention to the vehicle,” he said
Judge Ralph Simmonds sentenced Edmonds to four years in prison for the arson, and a further one year and seven months for the other offences.
He was also fined $200 and disqualified from driving for 12 months.
He will be eligible for parole in three years and seven months, backdated to October.
A senior WA constable is facing charges of dangerous driving causing death following the chase.